Saturday, January 27, 2007

Movies, Movies, Movies

I have just recently watched a movie with my husband and found it to be on of the most interesting, informative, and enjoyable movies in a long time. The name of the movie is Mozart and the Whale.

The movie is based on the life story of Jerry Newport and his wife, Mary. Both of the characters in the movie have Asperger’s Syndrome. Donald is always trying to find a way to fit in and be “normal” while Isabelle accepts her Asperger’s and lives life everyday. They met at a group session in which Donald put together so that other people on the Autism Spectrum would not be alone. The acting in this movie is incredible. It is so realistic you find yourself forgetting that it is a movie.

As you can see from previous entries on my blog I am currently enrolled in a program at Antioch New England University,. The program is the Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate Program. I am learning that so many people just do not understand what the disorder is about or what they can do to help. This movie will certainly open the door for more understanding to the individuals who have questions or who look at people with autism with accusatory eyes.

Watch this movie! You will find, like my husband who really has no knowledge or interaction directly with individuals on the spectrum, that they (people with autism) are just regular people with a whole other view of the world.

Bye for now…

Sunday, January 7, 2007

It is time to reflect on my most recent class with Larry Welkowitz . I had a hard time relating to this class, as I did not understand some of the terminology like co-morbidity. However, through the support of my colleagues and their patience, I quickly gained the knowledge needed to understand the remainder of the lecture. For those of you who do not understand what co-morbidity is it means having two or more diagnosable conditions at the same time. One of the items discussed in class was topography (what the behavior looks like) and function (purpose of the behavior or what is causing the problem). Larry used the example beaten by a bully vs. cannot stand the fluorescent lights vs. academics are boring. He stated “same topography different function”.

Also mentioned in class as well as in his book, Asperger's Syndrome: Intervening in Schools, Clinics, and Communities , which he co-authored with Linda J. Baker , college students mentoring students with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism. Keene State College has been a part of the peer-mentoring program, which has been funded by the The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation . College life can be extremely difficult for anyone. Imagine what it is like for a person with Asperger’s. College life can be described as a social interaction mixing pot, which can spell disaster for the young adults on the spectrum. Having a peer on campus to assist with schedules, social interactions, class scheduling, and many more items can be nothing more than helpful and positive.

Later in the day, there was a speaker from Peterborough, New Hampshire by the name of Kathleen Seidel . She offered so much that day, she seemed to make everything start to solidify and make sense. Her website neurodiversity is a wealth of information about Autism as well as other disorders. Other information on her site ranges from family, everyday life issues, society, childhood, education, and many, many more categories.

Further, along in the afternoon, there was also another speaker Andy Sylvia who has Asperger’s . This diagnosis has not stopped Andy. He currently writes for the NH Insider which is a website containing information about New Hampshire politics.

I still find myself floundering in this great field of autism. There is still so much to learn even though we have made great strides. My next series of classes start on January 13, 2007. I can say that I am a bit nervous, but look forward to progressing forward so that I may better help our growing population of autistic individuals.

That’s all for now…

Thank you and see you later,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Class thoughts

Most recently I completed 5 classes of the 12 at Antioch for the Autism Spectrum Disorder program. I never thought that I would be able to come as far as I have. I did not think that I was cut out for graduate level academics. One of the best experiences so far has been the people that I have had the honor of meeting. They are a dedicated group of people who support and stay strong for the children and adults with autism.

My next series of classes start in January. This semester will prove to be more difficult than this last one as there is a huge project due in May. I have a good idea, thanks to one of my collegues in the program, and I am excited to start working on it. My hope is that it will be utilized by teacher and organizations to better understand and help the children on the spectrum.

That's all for now and thanks for reading!

By for now,

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Beginning

Hello, my name is Nadia. I am a 39 year old mother of two who decided to go back to school and learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorders. I graduated from college in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. During the one special education class that I took, there was only 1 short paragraph about autism. Now, I am currently enrolled as a graduate student at Antioch New England University, taking the Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate Program.

Two years ago when my oldest child started kindergarten, I knew that I would need to make a decision with my working career. So I decided to try and get a job at her school as a paraprofessional. Later I was hired as a para for one of the seventh grade classes. Little did I know that I would enjoy being with this population. The assistant principle of the school encouraged me to renew my teaching certificate and decide if teaching my own class was in the future. In order for me to renew my certificate I needed to obtain 75 hours of professional development and take the PRAXIS II to be HQT certified.

In the process of accruing my 75 hours, I participated in a workshop on Behavioral Management with John Moran. He inspired me to learn more about autism. At the time my youngest child had been tested for autism (I did not realize this until after the workshop). The diagnosos was not autism, but speech apraxia. This did not stop my interest. I decided to go to visiting day at Antioch to see exactly what they had to offer.

From that moment on I was hooked. I enrolled, went through the interview process, and was notified of my acceptance. Now you have to realize I NEVER intended to go back to school. I dislike writing papers and feel that I have been out of school for so long that I would find it hard to balance a family, marriage, work, and ... life! Guess what? It is extremely difficult but I find that it is turning out to be well worth it.

As part of the Counseling Interventions class with Larry Welkowitz, I am to design a it is!

In the next week to 2 weeks, registration for the spring semester is due. This is a big one as I have to decide which direction I want to go in...pragmatic language or general education for teachers...decisions, decisions. I already have a great idea for the final project (thanks to one of the many great people that I have had the opportunity to meet). I can say that the support from the people in the program is far more than I expected. I am very fortunate and grateful to be a part of it!

Thank you and see you later,